The possibility to freeze sperm and embryos has long been available to men and women facing infertility as a result of an illness or medical treatment. However, the ability to successfully cryopreserve human eggs is comparatively recent. The introduction and increasing use of egg vitrification from the mid-2000s onwards, alongside the use of intracytoplasmic sperm injection, has seen improved ongoing clinical pregnancy rates compared with slow freezing methods. Despite concerns, the technology has been widely embraced by the scientific community and in recent years has been applied in a greater variety of contexts. In this short perspective paper, we consider two specific applications for the vitrification of human eggs in routine assisted reproduction practice: social egg freezing and the use of frozen eggs in egg donation. We suggest that vitrification is transforming the reproductive landscape in novel and complex ways and that we must be alert to the challenges, complexities and ethics of such developments, especially for those who may be excluded or marginalised by these techniques.
Portland Press would like to thank Dr Silvia Camporesi (Kings College London) for her input into the initial discussions around some of the concepts covered in this issue of Emerging Topics in Life Sciences, and for securing some of the contributors and content.
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Perspective| October 21 2019
On Ice: The impact of vitrification on the use of eggs in fertility treatment
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Kylie Baldwin, Douglas Gray, Nicky Hudson; On Ice: The impact of vitrification on the use of eggs in fertility treatment. Emerg Top Life Sci 27 November 2019; 3 (6): 713–717. doi: https://doi.org/10.1042/ETLS20190062
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